A Perfectly Preserved 1980s Burger King Hides In A Secret Mall Passage

"Hidden," "out of sight," "overlooked," or "forgotten" generally aren't the kind of words one would associate with a fast food mega-chain and its thousands of locations. Quick-serve restaurants, particularly ones where consumers can grab a quick burger and an order of fries, are extremely easy to access. Burger King is one of the most prominent and omnipresent of all the hamburger spots, offering up Whoppers, Chicken Tenders, and more to customers at more than 7,250 individual outlets, according to ScrapeHero.

Most Burger King locations are standalone operations, but the company and its franchisees run a number of restaurants out of other, larger buildings, such as truck stops, retail plazas, and shopping malls, helping feed hungry shoppers day in and day out until the unlikely day arrives when they're shut down for lack of business or their operator moves locations. What becomes of a closed down and closed up fast food restaurant inside of a mall? It might be remodeled, or another fast food company might move in. Or, as was the case with a defunct Burger King in a shopping center in Delaware, it remains frozen in time, untouched, unseen, and hidden behind a wall for years.

A Delaware mall hosted a Burger King from 1987 to 2009

According to the Delaware News Journal, the oldest extant shopping center in the state is the Concord Mall in the Brandywine Hundred area of Wilmington. In 1987, Burger King opened a location in the mall, decking it out in the height of late 1980s restaurant design, with turquoise tables, mauve booth cushions, and blond wood everywhere. It was an extra-large and unique Burger King, too, measuring at about 5,000 square feet — double the size of a contemporary American fast food joint — and lacking a drive-through window because it catered mostly to foot traffic generated by the mall's other tenants.

With only minor alterations over the years reflecting marketing campaigns and corporate signage changes, that Burger King remained looking mostly the same, fully operational and feeding Concord Mall customers until 2009, surviving the comings and goings of stores in the neighboring vicinity, such as For Your Entertainment, Radio Shack, and Sears. When the Burger King closed, neither the restaurant staff nor mall employees cleaned out the large retail space or removed any fixtures. They simply left it alone, and the mall put up a wall, fully blocking the defunct restaurant from public view and access. And then everybody forgot about that Burger King entirely.

A pristine Burger King lurked behind a wall

According to the Delaware News Journal, the Concord Mall changed hands in 2020, when Allied Properties sold the complex to Namdar Realty Group. The company appointed Tom Dahlke as the new general manager, who received access to all of the mall's areas, including the long-dead Burger King hiding behind a quickly-built thin wall which had been used as a storage space for the past decade.

But then two years later, in early 2022, Dahlke started taking in potential new tenants into the Burger King, thinking a new restaurant operation could make good use of the kitchen and ventilation system. One of the mall's vendors got a peek inside and posted a photo to Twitter, and the spooky picture of a Burger King untouched by time quickly went viral. Before long, Dahlke was hosting reporters and news photographers for tours through the old Burger King, who went on to document the gigantic fast food time capsule, publishing photos of the restaurant's booths, soda fountains, floors, queue area, coffee machines, and self-service Coca-Cola fountains. As of December 2022, no new tenant has yet moved in to take over the old Burger King space in the Concord Mall.